Flatirons Men's Afghanistan Trip Day Five - Thursday, April 26, 2012
Why am I constantly selling God short? Why am I forever doubting that He has things completely under control...and is 10...20...3,000,000 steps ahead of me?
When our team met, very early on in the process, I told our fearless leader, Bob Tunnell, that I would take care of the devotional piece of our trip to Afghanistan. I remembered leading our adult Bible study class through the book of Nehemiah back in Texas -- while we were in the middle of a serious church mess and trying to rebuild after a split.
And God was way ahead of me.
The story of Nehemiah seemed fitting for our mission trip -- a great epic tale centered around restoration and renewal. But even though this happened more than 6 months before we made it over here...the "tyranny of the urgent" kept me from actually putting this devotional together. And I have to admit here, as our trip neared, and my schedule got even crazier, I seriously thought of opting out of preparing the Nehemiah devotions. I kept thinking, "Would it REALLY matter if we don't do it?" But as Monday, April 26th rolled around (5 days before departure), I felt God really urging me to prepare the devotions...so I chucked my Monday schedule out the window and wrote devotionals, printed out 9 copies and put them in binders -- one for each guy on the team. And some more honesty...doing this was nothing more than checking something off my to-do list.
Still...God was way ahead of me.
Fast forward to Thursday, April 26th. As the team gathered for our morning devotions, there was universal agreement that the Nehemiah story was perfect for what we've been experiencing in Kabul. The parallels between Nehemiah's story and what we were seeing in Afghanistan was stark: One, a displaced Jewish exile rebuilding from the ruins of Jerusalem. The other... countless Afghans trying to rise up from the ruins of their country. And I thought, "This is cool! I'm glad we were going through Nehemiah...for our sakes."
But God was still way ahead of me.
One of our main goals in coming here was to speak, as leaders, to the staff of our missions partner here in Afghanistan -- all of whom are Afghans. We knew they wanted to speak to what it's like to be leaders in America. As we prepped and prepared (as much as we could), I was fully planning to talk about being a servant leader -- which we can see in the Bible.
And there was God...way ahead of me.
We were late for the meeting, due to a delay at one of our off-site excursions and we tip-toed into the conference room...trying to be as inconspicuous as possible. Shortly after settling in, the staff member who had been taking the meeting notes on a flip chart turned to us and said, "Well, the men are here. I'm done!" and she left. Bart Lillie leaned and whispered, "You need to go take the notes." I looked at him like, "Why me? Why don't you?" I looked at our team...I was closest to the marker and flip chart. It was enlistment by proximity. So I stood up and Bart whispered, "Talk about Nehemiah." That threw me off. Nehemiah? I quickly grabbed the marker and dumbly stood by the flip chart. I glanced at the notes already written on the chart. I saw "servant leader", "honesty"' "open communication" written in blue marker. And as I read this, I heard our host say, "This is Dan" followed by a bunch if stuff in Dari. All eyes turned to me and my heart started racing. I WASN'T READY! What was he doing? I had a brain fart.
And then...God backed up and stood beside me.
All I can say about what happened next was, it was all God...laying the ground work years and years in advance. My heart settled and I shared with the staff the story of Nehemiah and his role as a servant leader, his example of honesty and open communication...it was as if this moment had been preordained, way in advance...which of course it had been. After that, Bob, John, Bart, Jase and Mike all shared their stories on leadership -- each one sharing how God had orchestrated their lives to become the leaders they are today. And why? Because God was way ahead of them, too.
Please understand, this is not about me or about the guys on the team. This is all about God and His "advance team". I only share this because it was humbling and amazing for the whole team to experience this moment. We all recognized...the pieces that had fallen into place, including our devotional time...the focus on Nehemiah...the lessons we had been pulling from our time together. It all led to that meeting with this staff in Afghanistan. And we don't know what God is going to do with our time here. Our faith and trust is that something good will come out of it...and I know (now, more than ever) that it's not my job to figure it out.
God is already 10...20...3,000,000 steps ahead of us all.